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Fitnessgram Tests Reveal More About Texas Schoolchildren

AUSTIN, TX -- After further analysis of the results of the Fitnessgram test created by The Cooper Institute of Dallas and given to Texas schoolchildren in grades 3-12 this spring, children in high poverty levels have poorer fitness, and physically fit students tend to perform better on state standardized exams.

A strong connection does not exist, however, between race and fitness, according to a report in The Dallas Morning News.

“Higher-income families probably expose their kids to more activities,” Bronwyn Keen told the newspaper. Keen is a physical therapist and children’s fitness expert at Children’s Medical Center Dallas.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) recently released district-by-district results from the Fitnessgram tests. The districts that performed the best on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test in 2006-2007 tended to perform the best on the Fitnessgram test, according to the Galveston Daily News. The districts where less than half the students passed the TAKS test in 2006-2007 had higher numbers of students who could not meet the fitness standards, the newspaper reported.

“It proves what we expected going into this thing,” Jeff Kloster, the TEA’s associate commissioner of health and safety, told the newspaper.

The Fitnessgram test was administered to 2.6 million students in 8,000 public schools. Although this was a mandatory test for Texas school districts, nearly 1 million students did not take the tests, and some school districts did not turn in any results, The Dallas Morning News reported. Several Dallas-area districts tested a fraction of their 12th-graders, and some students said they were allowed to turn in their own results, the newspaper reported.

TEA officials are working on new training guidelines to ensure more uniform testing procedures, Marissa Rathbone, director of school health for the TEA, told the newspaper. The Cooper Institute will let state officials handle compliance concerns, spokeswoman Amy George told the newspaper.

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